If you have time to watch a teenager deliver a complicated light saber routine ("Star Wars Kid"), a tripped-out seven-year-old mumble like an old drunk ("David After Dentist"), or an overweight cat swiftly slaughter its own mylar likeness ("Bert the Cat vs. Cat Balloon") then you probably have time to help save a beloved species.
That's the thinking behind the pretty progressive "YouTube Interventions" campaign launched by the group Forever Wild to protect rhinoceroses from poachers who kill the animals for their horns -- and are threatening to drive the animals toward extinction.
The wildlife group knows it's kind of hard to get our attention these days, as we're all distracted by countless media options and pondering such urgent matters as why we can't just leave Britney alone. So rather than compete against these distractions, they used them to their advantage, hijacking some of the most popular and inane YouTube clips to include graphic images of poached rhinos and a plea for help.
And we found the impact to be pretty jarring.
The ad agency behind the campaign, Ogilvy Cape Town, says by "targeting people who actively searched for stupid viral videos, these Trojan Horses forced them to confront the reality of how they spent their time online."
Here's an example of how their "YouTube Interventions" work -- but we have to warn you that some of the video of these mutilated rhinos can be very hard to watch. They show-up at the 1:33 mark if you still want to see the campaign, but avoid those images:
And the hijacked video approach seems to have worked. Ogilvy says their "remixed" YouTube clips were viewed 300,000 times and helped generate a 400% increase in signatures to a petition to save the rhino.
Forever Wild says if rhino poaching continues to escalate, the animal will be extinct in fewer than eight years. You can add your name to the petition by clicking here.
The success of their campaign once again proves the best way to grab someone's attention right now is through a stupid YouTube video. But once you have their attention, well, then things can get serious.